An element of a culture or behavior that may be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, esp. imitation.
An image, video, etc. that is passed electronically from one Internet user to another.
A Meme is a product of the new and emerging field of Memetics. Memetics is the study of the workings of Memes: how they interact, replicate, and evolve.
The Meme was first discussed by biologist Richard Dawkins in his book called The Selfish Gene.
Memes take many forms. They can be self-replicating social ideas (like smoking cigarettes) that are commercially reinfoced.
Or they can make themselves known as a small annoyance, like that song that you just can't stop playing in your head.
Also see the book Virus of the Mind by Richard Brodie (Highly recommended by Russell Wright of Theme Zoom).
Also see our wiki entry dedicated to Mind Virus.
Biological Definition of Meme:
"The meme is the basic unit of cultural transmission, or imitation."
Examples include . . . tunes, ideas, catch phrases, clothes, fashions, ways of making pots or building arches.
Psychological Definition of Meme:
"A meme is the unit of cultural heredity analogous to the gene. It is the internal representation of knowledge".
Cognitive Definition of Meme:
A meme is an idea, the kind of complex idea that forms itself into a distinct memorable unit. It is spread by vehicles that are physical manifestations of the meme itself."
Notice the key phrase forms itself. We know that ideas don't "form themselves"any more than spoons get up and dance on the table. This really gives you a memes-eye view of the universe. Using the phrase "forms itself" is a trick to get us to look at things from a meme's point of view. You notice interesting things when you look at a specific meme and see what happens around it: how it spreads, mutates, or dies. Every object surrounding you is not only a physical manifestation of a meme, but is a meme itself. Everything is an idea. But in order for the idea to spread it must become a Virus. A meme is both and idea and a virus.